Recreation : Management : Voluntary and regulatory approaches

Voluntary and regulatory approaches to managing recreation


Zoning may be entirely voluntary, it may be enacted through regulatory mechanisms such as byelaws (see below) or it may be a mixture of both. The decision as to where the balance lies is likely to depend upon the extent of user co-operation in the development of the scheme.

The technique can be implemented on a spatial basis, whereby different activities are allocated specific areas of a water body or on a temporal basis, whereby activities are controlled at certain times of the day or at certain times of the year. The latter may include closed seasons. The scale of spatial zoning can range from policies designed to encourage or discourage activities across counties or national parks through the allocation of water bodies for primary uses to the setting aside of parts of a site for different activities.

Zoning is often used as a management technique for addressing safety or amenity issues. Its use is also increasingly being considered for the management of activities for nature conservation purposes. This may often include buffer zones or exclusion zones which seek to protect particularly sensitive features from the potential impacts of recreational activities. Such zones may also be used to improve particular areas of the site which may have undergone detrimental changes in the past as a result of recreational activities.

Many recreational representative groups have expressed concern, however, about the use of zoning as a nature conservation management tool. Traditionally this tool has been used purely for safety reasons. Two types are officially recognised: ‘areas to be avoided’ and ‘prohibited areas’. Each has an internationally agreed definition which has been used throughout the world and which is understood and generally observed by craft users. Recreational representative groups have therefore expressed the concern that the widespread use of zoning for purposes other than vessel safety may dilute the safety impacts of zoning as generally understood by mariners.

To date, zoning has rarely been used as a tool for achieving conservation objectives alone. Often nature conservation gains will be a by-product of the central safety and navigation objectives of the scheme.

The following case studies of Skomer, Pulau Seribou and Chesapeake Bay provide examples of the use of zoning primarily for nature conservation purposes. It should be noted however that these are examples applying to areas with special conservation designations - the first being a marine nature reserve and the second a marine national park. The Chesapeake Bay example is one which is potentially more applicable to mSAC areas.


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